The Choir

The choir usually sings music in the traditional and classical four-part format: Soprano, Contralto, Tenor, Bass. New members are always welcome. All that is a required is an ability and willingness to take the rough with the smooth and to adapt from week to week: great musical ability is not an essential requirement! For a time the choir has been meeting for rehearsal early on Sundays, before the service commences. Its members include those who have been here almost since the opening of the building: and others who travel specially over sea, air or land just to be present. From time to time, short anthems may be prepared, and examples in the last year or two include Mozart’s Ave Verum, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (J S Bach, adapted), and God So Loved the World by Stainer. During the Sunday Eucharist services, musical content has normally been straightforward, with four congregational hymns and perhaps another or a motet during Communion. Sometimes the musical content is enriched by professional musicians who are regular members of the church, a notable example being a performance on Good Friday of an extended chamber work written specially for the purpose by our former colleague Ivan Moody of the Orthodox community, who is now based in Helsinki. On special occasions, St George’s Lisbon and other churches combine forces with Estoril, and a larger choir is formed. Last year the enhanced choir performed the opening chorus from Elgar’s The Apostles. On Remembrance Sunday a short motet on the words “They shall grow not old” was delivered. The combined multi-denominational choir comes in very useful at Christmas, when they contribute in a traditional way to services of Lessons and Carols. The facilities of the two buildings at St George’s and at St Paul’s, very different though they are, have been seen to be attractive to visiting or touring groups of instrumentalists and choirs as suitable places at which to offer their concerts. We look forward to more such occasions in the future.

Choirmaster: Jon Luxton

In 1981, Jon Luxton began his professional career as a horn player in the London Symphony Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Sadler’s Wells Orchestra (Royal Ballet) and the English National Opera Orchestra. He has also played in chamber music concerts, solo recitals, at the Edinburgh Festival and in concerts organised by the BBC. From 1984 until his retirement in 2014 he was a member of the Gulbenkian Orchestra, holding the position of First Horn Soloist. Jon’s previous experience of choral singing had been as a choir-boy in Sturminster Newton choir where he remained for four years. On coming to Portugal, he joined the congregation of St Paul’s and subsequently became the Choirmaster. Jon is married to Denise, a flautist, who was also a member of the Gulbenkian Orchestra and sings in the St Paul’s choir. They have two children, Tiago and Sofia, who were both christened in St Paul’s.

Associate Choirmaster: Andrew Swinnerton

Organist at St George's: David Cranmer

David Cranmer came to Portugal in 1981 and became organist at St. George’s Church the following year. Besides his regular Sunday playing, he has also given organ recitals throughout Portugal, as well as in France, England and Brazil. Additionally, he has played with various choirs, such as that of the German Evangelical Church, the University of Lisbon, the Lisbon Chamber Choir and the Gulbenkian Foundation Choir. Since 2011 he has participated regularly (as pianist and harpsichordist) in the concerts of the “Academia dos Renascidos”, a group of singers and instrumentalists specialising in reviving less well known Portuguese and Brazilian repertoires. David particularly enjoys doing concerts with other musicians and creative artists of other arts. He is a teacher and researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, where he teaches in the Musicology Department. He has devoted himself particularly to various aspect of opera and theatre music in Portugal and Brazil in the 18th and 19th centuries. David has three children – Michael, Marta and Simão – all of whom sing and play.

Organist at St Paul's: Esther Georgie

Born in the United States of America, in a musical environment, daughter of a pianist mother and an organist father, Esther started playing the piano from the age of three, and a few years later, fell in love with the clarinet, performing with her mother, Philippa Barnes, in numerous recitals. She travelled to England at age twelve to study with Professor Thea King. Esther completed the course in two instruments at the Royal College of Music, with 'First Class Honours', and subsequently received several awards, including the Frederick Thurstin Memorial Prize. At that same time, she won the Young Concert Artists’ International Competition and the Young Artists' Platform London, which led to her performing in many concerts, including those held at Wigmore Hall, Fairfield Hall and the BBC (TV and radio). She was also invited by Sir David Willcocks to play the Brahms Quintet with the Quartet Auriol, in the presence of HRH Prince of Wales. As 1st clarinet, Esther performed in a series of concerts of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in the year in which the orchestra celebrated its 150 years, including a gala concert in the presence of Queen Elizabeth. In 1986 Esther was invited to play the Mozart Concerto with the Gulbenkian Orchestra, at the Festival of Wood and the following year she joined the orchestra as 1st soloist. Since then she has worked with the greatest conductors and soloists of the world and has participated in numerous recordings, from Beethoven to Tan Dun. Her favourite instruments are made of African ebony and Brazilian rose wood.